Another new WI with the recipe for success

January 30 2014

FOR all those ladies who missed out on a chance to join the hugely popular Bromley Heath Women’s Institute, all is not lost.

downend wi

FOR all those ladies who missed out on a chance to join the hugely popular Bromley Heath Women’s Institute, all is not lost.

The launch of the new Downend WI is now just weeks away.

The idea came about after a group of 11 friends saw how their husbands - who are mostly members of the Great Western Round Table - were out having a great time and raising money for charity as well.

They put their heads together and decided they wanted a piece of the action.

Buoyed by the success of Bromley Heath’s new WI, they thought this would be a great way for women to meet up and have fun.

During their first get together they managed to pick a committee and ideas spiralled from there.

The ladies are already planning their first 11 events and booking speakers but precise details are being kept top secret until the group’s launch night on January 28 when all will be revealed.

One thing is clear though – the emphasis will be on modern fun and some of the ideas raised include everything from Indian cooking to diving.

The group is planning to open up membership to 70 women before setting up a waiting list.

Meetings will take place on the last Tuesday evening of every month at Christ Church Hall in Downend and there are plans afoot to set up sub groups in the future as well as developing other projects like fundraising.

Mum-of-two Tracey Simmonds, 37, is acting president of the group. She said: “Myself and a few friends wanted to do something socially. We went along to the Bromley Heath meeting but found it was a large group so decided to do something smaller within Downend.

“We wanted to get together, get out and do things which are fun. It’s about making friends, having fun and gaining new skills.” 

Downend WI went live on Facebook on December 18 and already interest is high.

The first meeting of Bromley Heath WI attracted 350 women. Is Tracey expecting similar crowds?

“We are expecting a lot of women,” Tracey said.

“There’s been a lot of interest from people asking how they can join and giving us their ideas.

“A lot of women said they missed out on joining Bromley Heath WI so I think they will be trying to join Downend WI.

“We don’t want to step on Bromley Heath WI’s toes. We are taking their advice and have a friendly relationship with them. In the future we might work alongside them if there are any big events.” 

Tracey said joining a WI was an inexpensive way to form friendships.

“People are dying to get out and meet people socially but many people are on a budget. The WI subscription for the year isn’t too expensive. 

“Society these days can be quite isolating with people texting and going on Facebook rather than actually meeting up.

“People can become isolated once they have children or if they are new to an area and there’s not much opportunity out there to meet people and do things as part of a group and that’s the attraction with the WI.

“Many people are also interested in learning new things as I don’t think you really get that after school or college.”

The group’s inaugural meeting takes place on Tuesday January 28 at Christ Church Hall, North Street, Downend at 7.30pm.

To find out more visit Downend WI’s page on Facebook.

*It's great to report on the new WIs in Bromley Heath and Downend. We'd love to hear from members of the established Women's Institutes in Staple Hill and Mangotsfield too. Please get in touch at